Griselda Blanco, known as the “Godmother” of the Medellin Cartel, had a traumatic childhood filled with poverty, abuse, and crime before becoming one of history’s most infamous drug lords.
Blanco was born in 1943 in Cartagena, Colombia, and moved to Medellin at age 3 with her mother. Growing up in the city’s slums, Blanco endured an impoverished and abusive childhood that drove her toward a life of crime.
By age 11, Blanco had allegedly already kidnapped a child for ransom and shot him when the money wasn’t paid, according to former lover Charles Cosby. Other reports indicate Blanco turned to pickpocketing before age 13 to survive.
To escape sexual abuse from her mother’s boyfriend, Blanco ran away at age 14 and lived on the streets of Medellin. Sources speculate she may have resorted to prostitution during this period.
“She had become a pickpocket before she was 13,” said Drug Enforcement Administration agent Bob Palombo, who eventually arrested Blanco. “Her whole life was brought up around crime. There was no wholesomeness in her life.”
Blanco’s son, Michael Corleone Sepulveda, said in a 2018 documentary, “My mum had been balling since the 60s. Pioneer s***. Never again, that s*** was crazy.”
At age 13, Blanco met her first husband, Carlos Trujillo, who introduced her further into Colombia’s criminal underworld. The pair had three sons together in Medellin before Blanco turned 21 – Dixon, Uber, and Osvaldo.
Blanco and Trujillo built a partnership based on small-scale criminal operations like check forgery and selling marijuana. But Blanco later had Trujillo killed over a dispute about a business deal gone wrong, demonstrating early signs of the violence that would define her cartel career.
Her second marriage to Alberto Bravo drew Blanco deeper into Colombia’s burgeoning cocaine trade in the early 1970s. But this relationship also met a bloody end when Blanco murdered Bravo herself by shooting him in the head.
In the mid-1960s, Blanco and her first husband Trujillo emigrated to the United States, settling in Queens, New York. They graduated from small-time criminality to smuggling and selling marijuana.
When demand grew for cocaine over marijuana, Blanco pioneered creative drug trafficking techniques like sewing secret compartments into lingerie to ferry drugs past authorities.
But after her network brought vast quantities of cocaine into America throughout the early 1970s, Blanco returned to Colombia to avoid arrest. This set the stage for the fearsome reputation she would build back in her homeland over the coming decade.
“Right off the bat, there she is,” Palombo said. “Involved in phony passports, pick-pocketing … her whole life was a crime.”
From poverty to pickpocketing, from abuse to a string of marriages ending in murder – Griselda Blanco’s traumatic early life drove her toward the ultimate cartel infamy she later achieved.